Works In Progress

Monday, February 13, 2006

Making the Most of the Inopportune Moment

Last night our church threw a Valentine's Day dinner/youth group fundraiser. Prime rib was served and childcare was provided. We were so there.

Between the entree and the cheesecake I had to go make room for an after-dinner coffee. I hated leaving Dina at the table alone, but, not being catheterized, I had little choice. Washing my hands in the men's room, I remembered a detail I'd forgotten to include in my revision, a certain sound effect that would pay off later. (Why I do my best thinking in the bathroom is beyond me.)

I dried my hands and wrote WAGNER CRASH on my left index finger (a convenient notetaking spot when a notebook or toilet paper spool isn't available). In the dim candlelight back at the table I don't think Dina noticed I'd been multitasking during our night out together. Whew!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Poem Published

Online magazine Infuze has published my poem, St. Francis & the Birds.

The poem started as part of my WIP, from a scene where aspiring writer (and recent corpse) Maya Daniels is interviewed by magazine writer David Wagner. But the scene was too long/talky -- and the poem was too on-the-nose -- so that section was cut. Since the poem could stand on its own, I gave it a shot at Infuze.

While searching for synonyms for "omen," I came across "auspice," which technically means "observation of and divination from the actions of birds." Discovering that was the coolest part of revising the poem.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The New Deadline

The one thing that really helped me write the first draft of my novel was The Deadline. 50,000 words in 30 days. Not 49,999 in 31. Not 500 and then get back to it when you feel like it. You've got a deadline, now meet it.

The Mt. Hermon Christian Writer's Conference this year has been my dream. My target. I just plunked down the deposit; and since 75 bucks is not only 75 bucks but also non-refundable, Mt. Hermon (beginning April 7) is now my deadline.

I wrote 74,000 crappy words in a month. I have just under two months to write about 40-50,000 good ones (I'm at 38,000 now; target length is twice that or a bit more).

Better get crackin'.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Halfway Home

I just sent Chapter 10 out to my alpha-readers and outlined what's to come.

If I stick to the outline, there will be 19 chapters. Nine before Chapter 10, nine after. I'm also to the point where I'm no longer restructuring from a four-day story to a three-day.

The Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference is just over seven weeks away. It took me five and a half days to revise Chapter 10. (I don't even want to think about how long it'll take to incorporate and reconcile the suggestions of the alphas.) I've gotta hustle, and I don't mean disco-dancing.

Working With What's At Hand

I know I haven't written anything here for forever, but that's because there hasn't been much to talk about. The rewrite is coming along slowly (I'm wrapping up Chapter 10 today) and critiques of previous chapters are coming in slowly as well. No insights or epiphanies about craft have landed on my doorstep. I've got one submission out, a poem for Infuze, and that's about it.

Last night I had an experience that borders on interesting (okay a wide river separates it and "interesting" but it's in the neighborhood at least), so let's light this puppy back up*.

About midnight I was in the, oh, let's call it the "reading room" for all you sensitive types, when an idea hit me for the end of the scene I had been struggling with earlier. It was an idea I'd origninally had in the car while driving to Wednesday night youth activities. The fact I hadn't written it down before and hadn't remembered it during the three hours I'd been writing meant I might lose it forever if I didn't write it down now.

So I grabbed my trusty sudoku/cryptogram/crossword pen and then noticed there was nothing to write on. Oh, there was paper, sure; but ballpoint pens and Charmin don't work well together. Then I noticed an empty cardboard tube in the trash. So I fished it out, tore it apart lengthwise and jotted down a couple paragraphs.

When the book makes me a big name on Oprah (stranger things have happened), I'll auction off the tube and the paper plate I originally wrote the epilogue on. Maybe even for charity. Or I'll save them for when San Jose State builds me an archive next to John Steinbeck's. Yeah, that's the ticket. Students of the future: seek vast understanding of technique and dedication from the famous cardboard tube. Good deal.

What's the strangest thing you've ever jotted down notes on?

*No puppies were actually lit up in the process of developing or posting this entry.